May 30, 2016

Getting My Ducks in a Row


I love waterfowl, whether ducks or geese. I like my chickens a lot, but I like waterfowl even more.

My favorite birds are waterfowl.

I haven't had many: a few ducks, a pair of Embden geese, and now my Muscovy ducks.

They are endearing in a clumsy sort of way. They take such pleasure in life. I didn't keep them for eggs, although I did hope that they would hatch some babies. That's been more difficult than you'd think. The female goose didn't start laying eggs until after her mate died, so they weren't fertile. Most of my ducks have been males.

My current waterfowl are a pair of Muscovy ducks. Muscovies are great bug control, they love mosquitoes and ticks, but I haven't let them free range because of our predator situation; last year they were confined to the empty chicken coop. I was ecstatic when the female laid her first clutch of eggs, then her second, and then her third. Unfortunately only two of those 53 eggs hatched. One duckling died right away; the other lived a month and died.

Muscovy duckling

Last fall we moved the Muscovy pair to their own little coop in the front yard. They were harassed by black snakes while living in the chicken coop and many of the eggs were eaten. So far, the chickens in the old coop haven't been bothered... and the ducks haven't been bothered in their new coop either.

Muscovy ducklings

This spring when the duck hen laid her spring clutch I took nine of her eggs to put in the incubator, and let her keep the last four. Five of the nine eggs hatched and four are still alive. Then she hatched two of her four eggs, cute little fluffy things that looked like black and yellow bumblebees.

Mama brought her little babies out of the coop and down the ramp the next day. She couldn't teach them how to go back up the ramp in the evening though. I had to catch the babies and put them up in the coop with her. I usually leave the little pop door open but I closed it for the night so they couldn't escape before morning.

I had to repeat that exercise every evening, catching the little babies and moving them to the coop for her. Mama never did appreciate my doing so, I was pecked severely several times. Every evening I considered taking her babies and adding them to the brooder with the ones that hatched in the incubator, but I let her keep them.

Five days later, they were both dead. Perhaps they were trampled by the adults' big webbed feet. In the future I'll take her babies away and raise them myself.

I would really wonder if something's wrong with all those little babies, but the four-week-old incubator ducklings are doing just fine so far. They're growing like weeds and are beginning to grow feathers. They remind me of silly little penguins with their big feet and tiny little wings, so out of proportion.

They are fun and entertaining, but the babies will be going to a new home soon. The money they bring will buy a few more bags of chicken and duck feed.



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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17 comments:

  1. Did you leave daddy duck with mom and babies?

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    1. I did - should I have separated them? He seemed to be a good parent last year when she hatched just the one, but then again, that one died unexplainedly at one month old...

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  2. Yes, it is a good possibility the male duck killed the babies. I speak from experience.

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    1. Shannon, thank you for that information, sad though it is. I feel guilty that he probably killed the four little ones that the mama duck has managed to hatch in two years. But forewarned is forearmed so I'll either incubate her eggs or separate them in the future. Thank you.

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  3. Wow, I never realized it was so difficult to raise ducks. I hope the remaining ducklings do well.
    Thank you for dropping by The Maple Hill Hop today!

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  4. how so super cute love those little bills in between those beady eyes. That is why I love spring all the little ones lining up
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

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    1. They are so cute in that picture, aren't they? I'll stop over in a bit and visit your blog. :-)

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  5. I remember having muscovie ducks when I was a little girl. They were my very favorite farm pet and I'd like to have them again. I'm glad your ducklings in the broader are doing well. #homesteadbloghop

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    1. I've been told they make great pets, Erin. I got mine as adults and they aren't overly-friendly.

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  6. They are really cute, another great post Love it thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning.

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  7. Wow, sounds like you've had a time with the ducks! Hopefully the ones you hatched make it through and bring you a nice income. I don't have any experience with ducks, yet, but they're on my list of animals to add to the menagerie. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us at the homestead blog hop! Pinning and hope to see you again this week!

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    1. Thank you, Danielle, I'll be there!

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  8. They are so cute!! Thank you for sharing a part of your world with us.

    I would love for you to come participate in our Blog Hop. The Homesteader Hop every Wednesday, I do hope you will come out and join us. https://www.floydfamilyhomestead.com/2016/06/08/homesteader-hop-6/

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    1. Thank you, Shane. I stopped over and shared a few posts.

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  9. What cute little ducklings you have. Thank you for sharing them with us at Simply Natural Saturdays.

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    1. Thank you, Anya. Have a wonderful weekend.

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